Brian Bannister was roughed up for 4 runs on 5 hits in 3 innings. Banny managed just 1 strikeout and walked 2. Banny gave up 2 XBH, a double to Derrek Lee and a big fly to Alfonso Soriano. As a team the Royals pitchers struck out 5 and walked just three, but allowed 12 hits, 6 of them going for extra bases. Every Royals pitcher gave up at least one run, and Kyle Farnsworth's ERA sits at a nice round 15.00. Yes, the decimal point is in the right place.. 15.00
Offensively, the Royals managed just 4 hits as Maier, Jacobs, Gload and Butler all singled. Mitch Maier also had a stolen base. Jamey Wright had the lone error in the game on an errant pick off attempt. Despite their recent success, the Royals didn't walk a single time today and struck out 6 times. Their offense was completely shut down today in what was easily their worst showing so far this spring.
Hitter of the Game
The hitter of the game today was Mitch Maier, who led off and played centerfield today. Mitch was 1 for 3 with the lone RBI, driving in Ross Gload on a 3rd inning single. Mitch also stole 2nd base. Mitch did not walk or strike out and his average this spring is .304 after today's game.
Pitcher of the Game
The pitcher of the game today was Luke Hochevar. Luke pitched 3 solid innings, giving up 1 run on 2 hits. Both of those hits did go for extra bases, however. Luke struck out 2 and walked 1 and after today his spring ERA sits at 3.38.
The Royals have Tuesday March 10th off, litearlly. The players have been told to stay away from camp and take the day easy. Interesting take after an absymal performance. We'll have to see how it plays out.
No more Estey
In other news, Esteban German was granted free agency today. As you may recall, German was DFA'd when Juan Cruz was signed and added to the 40 man roster.
When Luke Hochevar was taken with the 40th overall pick in the 2005 draft by the LA Dodgers, it was clear that he had fallen so low because of his price. When he was selected first overall the very next year, many people believed it was also because he would sign for a little bit less money since he had sat out a year (playing independent baseball). Luke ended up signing for 5.3 million with the opportunity to make 7 million in his first 3 years.
Despite being in the Royals system for the last three season, Luke still feels like a very new player to me. I say that because until last season, he had never started more than 16 games at any one level. However, last season Luke started 22 for the Royals, posting a 5.51 ERA and a 6-12 record, both very underwhelming.
Looking at Luke's career numbers makes me wonder why he was rushed so much. Aside from 15 innings of A ball in 2006, Luke has never been dominant, or even good, at any level. Sure, he started in AAA last season and had a 2.60 ERA in 17.1 innings, but this was after he competed hard for a rotation spot in spring training and was likely far ahead of his AAA competition.
Give him another chance
While Luke had an awful season last year, including an injury that kept him out of all but 6 starts in the second half of the season, I really feel like he took a step forward. I think that one of the most important things for a good prospect to do is fail. And by all accounts, Luke is/was a good prospect, including being the #63 'spect in MLB last season and #32 'spect in MLB in '07. I don't mean that it is important for a prospect to fail at each level, though I think there is some value in that as well. But it is very important for a prospect to fail at the big league level, because it teaches them that the work that they have done in the past won't cut it in the big leagues. Luke must work harder, study harder, try harder than he has ever had to work, study, and try in his life.
It is this reason that I think Luke has the chance to succeed. I've poured over the numbers and there really isn't anything there to prove that he will do well at the major league level, other than the fact that he is young and was a great prospect and has great stuff. This is one time that I will go on my pitching coach instincts and look past the numbers. I don't have proof that Luke will succeed, except for what I see. Luke routinely works his sinker around the strike zone, and when his sinker is working, he has the ability to pitch as well as anyone. He is just inconsistent with his control, much like any young pitcher needing more experience.
While I'm not sure that Luke will have a breakout season in 2009, I do feel like he has the chance to be very successful in the near future. If I had to write a line for him, I imagine it would have him going 12-11 with a 4.49 ERA in 29 starts, which is very acceptable. I feel like Luke's "stuff" is very underrated, however, and I think that maybe in 2 or 3 years, once he gets more experience, he will have the chance to really dominate, maybe similar to another sinkerballer from Denver, Doc Halladay.
Okay, maybe the Roy Halladay comparison is a bit extreme, (okay probably too extreme). Okay, the Roy Halladay is definitely not fair, but I do have a lot of faith in Luke. I think people forget that he only has 207 minor league innings of practice, so he might take a while to reach his full potential since he is essentially learning in the big leagues.
Thanks for reading! Don't forget to vote for who you think will win the WBC in the top left corner!